Sibling Sundered

Angola Kalandula Falls

Photo © Gabriel Sarabando via Google Maps

We followed the roar to the wide waterfall. We were closer. But what had the seer meant by, “Past the great falls, on a spider”?

The longer we searched, the fiercer our debate. Engen wanted to cross the river. Jiar sought a cave behind the curtain.

Finally I spotted it: a domed rock island, carved with legs. And the cult’s familiar sigils.

Something lay on top.

Fighting recognition, I climbed the slimy steps. The body’s abdomen gaped open, its face unrecognizable, pocked as if by acid. But there it was: the birthmark that mirrored mine.

Jiar prodded with his staff. “Too much skin here. She was pregnant.”

“They sacrificed her baby to that monster?”

“I don’t think so. See, here? Something burst out.”

A splash, and Engen was gone. A gigantic tentacle slithered toward us. I grabbed Jiar, rushing shoreward.

But not homeward. Not until I’ve avenged my sister’s death.

Word count: 150. Written for this week’s What Pegman Saw challenge. Big thanks to Karen and Josh for running this fabulous writing prompt! This week Pegman takes us to Angola. Searching around photospheres all across this region, I found one lone shot of this amazing waterfall: Kalandula Falls, the widest in Africa. Click on the link above to see what cool images the other participants found that inspired their stories, and feel free to chime in and add one yourself!

I’m on a monster kick lately because I’ve been reading Philip Athans’ Writing Monsters book. I would definitely recommend it! It’s subtitled, “How to Craft Believably Terrifying Creatures to Enhance your Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction,” and I think it definitely pays out on what it promises.

32 thoughts on “Sibling Sundered

  1. What a student of the craft you are, Joy – always learning, always studying. Loving your current monster trip. You set this scene so well, paint a dreadful image and then set us up for a new quest – revenge. Great stuff

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gosh, I hope she avenge’s her sister’s death! I got the impression that the baby is alive? Hope so, that gives our protagonist an innocent to save, another and higher motivation to drive her on.
    Thanks for the reference to the book on monsters. I added it to my wish list. Sounds interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, the “baby” is alive, you got the right impression there. But I’m not sure I’d call it innocent and I doubt the narrator will try to save it. Think of the thing with the big tentacles as a big parent monster, and then remember that scene with John Hurt from the movie Alien… 😉

      I’ll be reviewing the monster book on Goodreads soon (hopefully soon, at least) so you can see more there.


      • Nice! I did catch the statement “something burst out.” And the main voice stated the fact that the victim was pregnant, but she didn’t act like she knew that from before… so I see what you are doing here. Her sister was sacrificed as a vessel for this creature… yikes. They live a harsh life in your world.

        And to think you were so pleasant when I met you, but in that head of yours… 😉

        I’m looking forwards to your review of the Monsters book. Thanks for the heads up on that.


      • Yes, correct! Except that Jiar is the one who noticed that the sister had been pregnant — if I’d had more words to work with, I could have clarified that Jiar is the healer/surgeon one of the group. In an earlier version, he had tried to hold back the narrator from seeing the mutilated body, suspecting that it would be her sister, and the narrator pushed on anyway.

        And I agree: this is all very unpleasant! There’s a good reason why I usually don’t include scary monsters in my stories. I’m not one for horror and gore and such. But then, that’s another great thing about writing flash fiction: it allows me to explore topics that I wouldn’t have the stomach to keep up with for a longer story. Like a Lovercraft-inspired crazy cult in the jungle sacrificing people to ancient river monsters. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    • Not quite a spider after all. More like a monstrous octopus. The sacrificial altar does look a bit like spider’s legs — poor seer, those visions are always so vague!

      And yes, I’m sure you *were* the one who created the name Jiar, now that you mention it! For these flash fiction pieces, I don’t think much about the names. I just make up something that sounds good and fits the general spelling / language of that culture. This probably isn’t the first time I’ve accidentally cribbed a name from another story I’ve read without even realizing it. It’s a good name!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I am flattered that you used it, for it means that it’s memorable.
        I did google it (yesterday) and found it on baby name sites, but no one seems to know its origin, though one Japanese (or was it Chinese?) contributor suggested something about rose-blush.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Interesting about the baby name sites. I always forget to check those, and I really should. I prefer names that don’t have a clear meaning, at least for Eneana, so that I’m not accidentally conveying symbolism I don’t mean.


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